More of American Cinematographer - July 1984 Speilberg Interview
"When George Lucas came to me with the story, it was about black magic, voodoo and a temple of doom. My job and my challenge was to balance the dark side of this Indiana Jones saga with as much comedy as I could afford."
"In many ways, the visual style of the film was conceived when George told me the story, which was a very rough sketch of the movie he wanted us to help him construct. I heard a couple of things. I heard Kali Cult and Thuggees. I heard temple of doom, black magic, voodoo, and human sacrifice. When he said words like temple of doom and black magic, what came to mind immediatley was torchlight and long shadows and red lava light. I felt that dictated the visual style of the movie. Once you're underground, there's no sunlight seeping through. I wanted to paint a dark picture of an inner sanctum. I didn't rely on magazine pictures as I used to, looking at National Geographic pages or in a photography magazine to show the cameraman what I liked. I relied more on what it would look like if an entire set had only low wattage light bulbs recessed in nooks and crannies. It suggested the BeIa Lugosi light you put under the vampire's face that casts a nose shadow across the forehead. It suggested a lot of spooky, creepy, crawly, nocturnal imagery."
"All the lighting effects were floor effects as opposed to putting in a graduated filter or putting on a coral filter, or even hooking a piece of cyan gel to the lens. Dougie Slocombe likes to mix light and so do I. We agreed on that for Raiders of the Lost Ark, even though Raiders had a different visual approach and a different philosophy. Raiders was outdoor adventure and the sun was our ally. In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the arc, 10K and the baby were our allies. Often just the light of an actual torch was plenty with the assistance of the new fast 94 stock."
"The color scheme evolved out of many production meetings with our custume designer, Anthony Powell, myself, Elliot Scott, and Dougie Slocombe in deciding what the film was going to look like. I wanted it to be filled with bright colors like a classic Technicolor movie. I especially wanted the banquet sequence at the beginning of the picture to be like The Adventures of Don Juan. Palatial, flashy, and motley in the choice of primary colors for the costumes and walls. Decadent. We wanted it to be bright and gaudy. To mislead the audience and make them think, with the dancing girls and exotic characters and their colorful costumes, that Indiana Jones' adventure was going to take place on the surface of the world. But the minute he goes into his room at night and discovers the secret passage which leads into the inner sanctum and eventually to the Temple of Doom, I wanted the shift in style to very dark and low key."
"In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and in any kind of fantasy adventure saga, you take the audience away from street realism, and deliver them into an entirely different universe. You can't take it literally. I want people to take the experience of going to see the movie seriously, but it's important in a picture like this to create a world they've never before experienced. And that world cannot be compared with the world they return to two hours later. That's why I feel I had the freedom to take more license with a picture like Indiana Jones than I took in ET. When you have an arch villain as broad as Mola Ram, the evil high priest of the Temple of Doom, I certainly didn't want to shoot him in a naturalistic setting. I suggested to Elliot Scott that the stone they tie Harrison Ford to look like a demented, deformed skeleton with candles burning in the eyes, with candles on top of the head with wax-like hair melting down the sides of this scary obelisk. Across the hall, I wanted the entryway into what we called the whipping chamber, to look like a demon with a mouth wide open. And in the sequence where Mola Ram forces Indiana to drink the blood that puts him into the black sleep, we went broad with the lighting, using hard lights, and lighting it from the floor as if it were coming from fissures illuminated by molten rivers of lava. We used only a few top lights to highlight and separate the characters from the background."
"When the actors did something special, I would go in and allow Dougie the opportunity to light it better for a close-up. On a master, Dougie couldn't get the nuance lighting in. With a second camera and loo-millimeter lens grabbing the closeup, the lighting wasn't as good because our concern was with letting the audience see the set and the outline of the characters in the dark. Dougie would always encourage me to pick out something I found to be a favorite moment and cover it so he could do it justice with his lighting.
"The reason I like working with Dougie is that he's a glamour photographer. He can shoot any woman and put her on the cover of any magazine in the world. Yet when it comes to rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty and down into the nitty gritty of ancient tombs, he can create impressions of foreboding and mystery. I witnessed his skill one day when he was shoooting little children, filthy and dirty, digging for the lost Shankara stone in this huge quarry cavern with very bizarre lighting. There were lights hidden under rocks shining up at their faces, lights out of little holes in the walls just giving them enough face light to accentuate their pathos. The very next day he shot the love tease and lit Kate Capshaw as James Wong Howe might have lit Greta Garbo. That to me is skill. Skill and real creative talent means doing many things well, not just one. And Dougie has variety. He's like the Laurence Olivier of cameramen because he's able to put a different mask on when the scene requires a different style of lighting. He doesn't impose his own style on every movie he makes. He's a chameleon. He keeps changing, not just from film to film, but from sequence to sequence. He'll go from the slick Hollywood glamour of the overlit, splashy banquet scene to the one-stop push photography in the Temple of Doom."
"For the banquet scene, I just turned to him and said, 'Make it like an old 305 musical where it looks like there are 100 arcs up there - where it looks bright and decadent and sexy.' A few adjectives and he knows exactly what to do."
"For the mine car chase, Elliot Scott and I designed the mine train full scale on one large sound stage in London and Dennis Muren, our special effects supervisor, matched what we built for the miniature shots. I didn't quite know what I wanted this mine train chase to be. I had some elaborate storyboards, impossible to put on screen, and Elliot Scott told me he didn't think he could do it justice with one circular track. So he built some variety into that track by constructing it on three levels. It goes 15 feet over the camera, then dips down to about two feet off the ground, then down one foot, down two feet more, back up to ground level, and finally back up eight feet. What we actually did was build a rollercoaster ride on the sound stage. And it really worked. It was safe. It was electrically driven. You could take rides, in it."
"We built two loops, the mine train loop and a dolly track loop. I could sit on the camera with Chic (Waterson) operating it, and five people pushing the dolly from behind, we'd travel at the same speed as the mine train.
"One of the secrets to making that scene realistic was not locking the camera down. There are many mount shots that study Indiana and Willy in closeup. There are no process shots in the sequence at all. I used master shots with run-bys, or the camera was in the car, or running next to the car with the actors in the car."
"Before we shot, we did a steady test. What we discovered was that we could not get the camera steady. The photography on the first day of testing was almost unusable because the camera shook so much when it was in the mine car. Everyone said, 'Gee, this looks terrible.' And 1 said, 'No, it doesn't look terrible. It looks absolutely realistic. I took several rides in the mine car and this is what it looks like. It made my fillings fall out. This is what it feels like to be in a mine car without shock absorbers, racing downhill. I loved the fact that the camera never was steady. We even began to loosen the mounts as we shot so it would register more vibration."
"For the run-by shots, I found when I used a wide angle lens, it was too smooth. It was like a boat-to-boat shot on a calm lake. So, I only shot from the dolly to the mine car with 755, iocs, and i8o-millimeter anamorphic lenses. This in itself made it hard for Chic because he was struggling to keep the actors in frame. But it gave a very realistic effect. Then Dougie and Paul Beesen, who both helped to shoot the sequence, put very hot lights every zo or 30 yards so there would be sweeping shadows as the people went through different colored lights. We were careful to change the color of the gels so the actors never went through just white light. They went through reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. This gave the feeling of speed and variety of location."
Location: Neuchâtel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Originally Posted by JuniorJones
It's called Steadyzine (French) and is the second issue of an 80s film tribute.
What is the date on this? I did a search for this, "Steadyzine", and it seems that it's only an on-line thing. Is this an actual magazine that you scanned?
Thanks for sending me the larger images, Juggernaut!
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
Would love to know what it all says, especially the Klaus Kinski part...since Peter Lorre was always the influence I remember.
Most of the text is about stuff that we already know, however, there are some interesting tidbits (Peter Falk as Indiana Jones???):
The names of Peter Falk (already directed by Spielberg in one of the first episodes of "Columbo"), Peter Coyote (future doctor in "E.T.") and Tim Matheson were also called up. Nick Nolte was also contacted, but refused, just like Jeff Bridges.
To play the bastard of the film, it was originally planned to be an Italian actor, Giancarlo Giannini but above all the French actor-singer Jacques Dutronc. Not knowing one word of English, Dutronc said simply in an interview, "Spielberg has a completely crazy technique and as my English was not evident, I didn't want to trouble him with a bad accent..."
It was Klaus Kinski who, initially, was to play the role of the Nazi, Toht. The salary did not suit him, he chose to leave for the filming of the reptilian movie, "Venom".
For the sake of economy, Steven Spielberg did not hesitate to take a shot of a DC-3 traversing the Himalayas from the film "Lost Horizon" (1973).